They Shoot Horses, Don't They?


Action / Drama

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

Top cast

Jane Fonda Photo
Jane Fonda as Gloria
Bruce Dern Photo
Bruce Dern as James
Ian Abercrombie Photo
Ian Abercrombie as Male Dancer #74
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
889.95 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 9 min
P/S 3 / 7
1.83 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 9 min
P/S 0 / 9

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by mukava9919 / 10

unique for its time

THEY SHOOT HORSES DON'T THEY? This movie stays in the memory, partly because it stands out from other mainstream Hollywood products of its time in subject matter (the dance marathons of the 20s and 30s) and tone (pitilessly and harshly negative; even the humor is bleak). The message: life (the marathon) is a desperate rat race with a rigged outcome.

How certain actors end up with certain roles depends on the crazy complicated game known as Hollywood casting, but sometimes even a miscast performer will bring an unexpected something to the table and triumph. Such was the case with Bette Davis in ALL ABOUT EVE (written with Claudette Colbert or Gertrude Lawrence in mind) and such is the case with Jane Fonda in a role that would have been better suited to someone like Stella Stevens. Fonda overcomes the odds as Gloria, the morbidly cynical and impoverished young woman whose brief life has been a series of abuses, disappointments and defeats. Even though the actress looks and speaks like a patrician, her defiant, angry, controlled desperation burns through the superficialities. Her performance culminates in an emotional meltdown which she handles with skill. It was her great breakthrough as a screen actress.

Another career peak is reached by Gig Young who, as the master of ceremonies, personifies all the dishonesty, cruelty and pathos of the marathon itself. Bonnie Bedelia and Susannah York also score as different kinds of vulnerable innocents. Michael Sarrazin as Fonda's dance partner serves as the passive instrument that allows Fonda to play out her tortured personal drama. His unchanging wounded puppy dog expression speaks for itself.

Ironically, the musical arrangements by John Green, a brilliant and very active composer of early 30's popular songs (including "Body and Soul"),sound more like Lawrence Welk than a real third-rate dance band of the early Depression era. As musical supervisor of this film I wonder if it was Green who anachronistically included songs that hadn't even been written when the story takes place, including "I Cover the Waterfront" (1933) and "Easy Come, Easy Go" (1934),both of which Green composed himself.

For some reason the scriptwriter chose to move the story to 1932 from its original placement in 1934 by author Horace McCoy in the novel on which this film is based. At one point an old lady tells Fonda and Sarrazin that they are her favorite dance couple because they're wearing the number "67" which is the year she was born (1867). Later Fonda calculates her age: "Sixty-five." Which enables us to figure out that the action is taking place in 1932. In another scene Fonda, referring to Bonnie Bedelia, quips, "If she's not pregnant, then I'm Nelson Eddy." Eddy didn't become a nationally known name until 1935 when he teamed with Jeanette MacDonald. He didn't even appear in a major motion picture until 1933 (DANCING LADY, MGM). A woman of 1932 would have been more likely to say "Bing Crosby" or "Rudy Vallee" or even "Russ Columbo." So one can't help wondering why the screenwriter bothered to move the action backwards by two years.

Exhausted couples staggering around a dance floor under a shining, spinning ball composed of mirror fragments that reflect off the ceiling, walls and floor - a symbol of Earth and the cosmos around it and oppressed humanity on the bottom grimly pressing on. That's the film in a nutshell.

Reviewed by MartinHafer4 / 10

A marathon in more ways than one.

Well....THAT was an experience! I just finished watching THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY and found it was a marathon in more ways than one. On one hand, the story is all about a dance marathon. On the other, watching it FELT like a dance marathon--it seemed to go on and on and on. Now if the film had some sort of payoff after all this waiting, then I would have thought my time was worth it. But, like the experience of the two central characters in the film, it turned out to be pretty much for nothing.

As I said, the film is set at a dance marathon--a very popular sort of event back in the 1920s and 30s. In such a contest, couples dance and dance and dance with only brief breaks for weeks on end until ultimately only one couple remains--and they win some sort of monetary prize.

The format of the movie is to feature a few couples in particular--one made up of a nasty and thoroughly unpleasant woman (Jane Fonda) and Michael Sarrazin (who has all the personality of a piece of soggy cheese),Red Buttons and some lady with no personality whatsoever, Bruce Dern and his very pregnant wife, and, two out of work bit actors (Susannah York and some other guy). The problem is that through the course of this very, very long film, you never really get to know any of them particularly well. Many were just like "the pregnant woman" or "the guy with Susannah York" but not much more. In fact, there was much more character development in the guests on a "Fantasy Island" episode. The only character who was more developed was Fonda, but sadly all you came to learn about her was unpleasant. This gave the movie a giant "who cares" factor and making its 129 minute run-time seem like 229 minutes. To make things worse, the ending really made no sense AND there were many, many plot points that were completely unresolved--such as exactly what happened with Red Buttons.

Despite these HUGE complaints, the actors tried very hard, the film had the look of the period and the film got lots of Oscar nominations (1969 must have been a horrible year). Technically, aside from the script, the film was well made...but you wonder about a film with such one-dimensional and unlikable characters? Seen today, it's really hard to see what the critics saw in this film since it was such a chore to continue watching this film. In many ways, it felt like you were watching a train wreck--interesting but thoroughly unpleasant.

By the way, and I know this is in very bad taste, but shouldn't they have had Gig Young do what Sarrazin did at the end of the film? It would have been a lot more ironic.

Reviewed by bkoganbing8 / 10

The Spirit Died in the Stock Market Crash.

Jane Fonda's performance of a beat and tired hopeful performer caught during the Great Depression is the standout feature of They Shoot Horses Don't They. The spectacle of the young people trying to win some extra money to pay the rent is exhausting in and of itself. You might have trouble staying awake during this film merely because as you look at them dancing. Even the musicians play tired after a while, but they're relieved and the dancers aren't.

Marathon dancing started during the Roaring Twenties when the country was in a partying mood. During the years of prosperity, the spirit on the dance floor would have been lively. The fad carried over to the Depression, but the spirit died in the Stock Market Crash. Now all the hopefuls are just trying to earn money for the bills.

When Fonda's original partner is disqualified, she hurriedly teams up with Michael Sarrazin who still has a spirit of some optimism which is ground out of him by the grueling dancing. As things progress and Fonda sees how corrupt the system is even here, tragedy results.

They Shoot Horses Don't They won a flock of Oscar nominations except curiously enough for Best Picture. Fonda and Sussanah York were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress as was director Sydney Pollak, but the only winner on Oscar night was Gig Young for Best Supporting Actor as the Master of Ceremonies at the dance palace. His performance ought to be seen side by side with another Oscar winner, Joel Grey in Cabaret. Both are in the same kind of roles although Young is more involved with the rest of the cast and Grey just serves as a commentator.

Watching Young the best comparison I could also give is with Vince McMahon at the WWE. Fonda is like one of the trial horses in a wrestling match there, one of the ones who perpetually loses in those fixed contests. And as Young said he may not know a winner, but he can spot a sure loser, one the crowd will not be pleased with.

Sarrazin's character was a bit strange and I couldn't quite accept him or his motivations. Despite that They Shoot Horse Don't They is a classic from the Sixties and the first film where Jane Fonda really was given a meaty role to lead a film with.

Read more IMDb reviews